Thursday, December 17, 2015

Six Steps to Hiring Exceptional Talent

Guest post from Dee Ann Turner:

The best business leaders have a keen sense of purpose that drives their work. Ideally, they also have superior products and services that support that purpose. But noble purpose and brilliant products won’t get you far if you don’t have the right people to deliver them.

In other words, our who matters even more than our what and our why.

That makes selecting talent the most important task of today’s leader. It’s also the most difficult. So many managers don’t understand how to use the hiring process not just to fill a position, but also to truly add value that enriches and complements the company’s culture.

I have worked at Chick-fil-A’s corporate headquarters for more than 30 years. I’ve spent most of that time as Vice President of Corporate Talent, and my decades of experience and devoted personal study have led me to believe that hiring is an art, not a science. While that may seem daunting at first, especially to those of us who crave facts and precision, it’s actually great news. Hiring as an art abandons robotic coldness in favor of human intuition. When we combine our instincts with finely honed processes such as behavioral based interviewing, we can achieve game-changing results.

In my new book It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and Compelling Culture, I share secrets behind the exceptionally effective business model Truett Cathy pioneered when he founded Chick-fil-A in 1946. Truett’s entrepreneurial philosophy was way ahead of the curve. Over the years, he emphasized to me time and time again that our business was not about numbers, growth, or even chicken. To Truett, Chick-fil-A was always about people.

In the midst of a fluid labor market in which individuals move from company to company with expected regularity, Chick-fil-A’s corporate staff retention rate has remained at 95-97% for almost 50 years. I believe that success can be traced back in part to how we hire. Here are six guideposts to smart, soulful hiring, shaped by Truett’s people-first ideology:

1.    Think hard about the role and carefully craft its description. How can you use the new hire to address current weaknesses that may be slowing your staff down? Try also to think about the future instead of just the present.

2.    Expand your search. In It's My PleasureI call it “casting a wide net.” Different perspectives and experience from other industries can bring invaluable new energy to your team.

3.    Practice behavioral based interviewing. Behavioral based questions push candidates to draw on how they’ve responded to situations in the past. Instead, interviewers often ask questions that can only be answered hypothetically, which is not the best way to learn how someone will actually act.

4.    Check references. Too many managers do not follow up with references thoroughly. This calls for more than just verifying employment: Take the time to ask about past performance, which we know is the best indicator of future performance.

5.    Talk the candidate out of the job. Once you have decided to offer a candidate the position, try to talk them out of accepting. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it is an excellent way to gauge the individual’s level of passion and determination for both the role and your company.

6.    Make a commitment to the new hire. Once the job has been accepted, do all you can to ensure the new employee’s success. They are your investment: Use the time and resources necessary to help them grow into the position.    

In It's My Pleasure, I explore each of these suggestions in greater detail, along with other proven hiring techniques. While there are no one-dimensional solutions to the challenge of recruiting and sustaining extraordinary talent, we can hold on to one simple truth: When we put people at the center of our strategies, we gain so much more than added sales. One person at a time, we build a thriving, compelling culture that extends far beyond business hours to impact the lives of everyone who comes into contact with it.

That is Truett Cathy’s legacy, and one that is well worth trying to emulate.

About Dee Ann Turner
Dee Ann Turner is Vice President, Corporate Talent, for Chick-fil-A, where she began her career more than 30 years ago. Her first book, It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture, reveals never-before-shared secrets behind building and maintaining Chick-fil-A’s revolutionary business model. Dee Ann believes people are the most powerful commodity in any organization, and companies that recognize the value of individuals can succeed not just ethically, but financially as well. In addition to serving on the boards of the Kenya Project and Proverbs 31 ministry, the married mother of the three is also active with a variety of family-focused missions that support women and children.

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